So I guess I'm blogging about what every other blogger blogs about at this time of year... Reflecting back over the past year but what makes this post different is that its my story, just like your reflections are your story and our stories are important.
Over this past year, I imagine you would have experienced both ups and downs, disappointments & failures, happiness and success. Perhaps it lent to one side more than the other? Either way, its okay, you're through to 2019 - what's done cannot be undone and its good to look back and reflect on the past year.
Why? Because it tells you how you actually lived, how you managed the difficulties, what you actually valued, how you spent your time... Reflecting back not only tells you who you are (rather than who you think you are) it also gives you a chance to celebrate the ups and learn from the downs because when you were living it, there's not always the time to reflect what's really happening. This is your story, the story of you - its important because you are important.
When looking back, there maybe things that you want to address, balance of your time, values etc - maybe you have veered off course a little? Setting New Year Resolutions may seems like setting yourself up for failure but carefully looking back at the last year can help you to move and grow for the year ahead. Without goals or plans, we can drift aimlessly and be battered by life circumstances - having goals and plans help us stay on track, to navigate the difficulties and keep us focused on who we are.
Personally, I like having goals and plans to aim for or look forward to. I think about goals unmet and realise while it seemed like a great idea - I didn't value it, otherwise I'd have kept it close. If I still want to meet this goal then I need a better plan or I have to accept that this goal is not for me or not for now.
This year, I planned something to look forward to every other month - a month to look forward to it and a month to feel good about what had happened. I find it difficult to do nice things for myself, this is because of my mental illness so having these plans helped me to grow in being kinder to myself. These were my plans;
January - Visited my friend in Abu Dhabi
March - Spa day with my husband
May - Musical Theatre show with my husband
July - Family holiday & musical
September - Musical with my mum
November - Day out with my mum to Ideal Home Show
This has really helped me so I plan on doing it again this year. I set the plans at the beginning of the year accept for September & November. Those plans felt a little rushed and September nearly didn't happen at all, so lesson learned - do them at the beginning of the year when I have energy.
Another goal I had was to read through my bible in a year. I was gifted a journal one year bible and I planned on making it beautiful. However, what I found is that I just didn't have time to beautify everything and actually writing notes in the spaces was better in helping me absorb the word. I also found I missed days when I was busy and then I was so overwhelmed about the amount of reading I would have to catch up to be 'right' that I started putting off reading it altogether!!
Thankfully God spoke to me through this - as you can probably tell, there is perfectionism within me - I like to get it right, I want everything to be perfect and then it'll all be okay, I'll be safe and can avoid harm - I can't earn Gods grace anymore than anyone else and relying on 'getting it right' does not help me, it does not keep me safe nor does it keep me from all harm - at all. As you see from this example, it hinders me - I ended up not reading the bible at all because I felt I had got it all wrong.
God gently spoke to me and told me He just wants to spend time with me and its perfectly fine to just pick up the bible from today, He wiped away my guilt from the unread pages and we just started the new day afresh. I'm so thankful for Gods mercy and grace. I missed a couple of more pages but I remembered what God said and rather than being hung up on misread pages, I picked up from the day. My ultimate goal was to grow in my relationship with God - but I got side tracked by trying to 'prettify' and then sidetracked by not reading the word fully in the order my bible was laid out in. My good intentions skewed my goal.
This year, I hope to read through this bible again without the perfectionism and I am also adding a new goal... To listen to the bible whilst getting ready in the morning - chronologically as I've not done this before. I already have the app on my phone to go. I prefer to read the bible before I go sleep at night. I also want to add to my self kindness goals and I really hope to take better care of myself physically. I'm not yet sure how this will look for me, as requires some planning, as it can be triggering for me.
As a christian being self sacrificing and putting others first was easy for me, as I had such low self esteem that it fed into that part of me that felt I deserved to be last, as I was utterly worthless. It has taken a lot of work and counselling to re-adjust my thinking and align myself with 'who I belong to and what He thinks of me' I could easily be hard on myself with dieting and exercise, due to the perfectionism and picking up past hurts/trauma/ways of coping. However, this is not who I want to be now. Learning to care for myself, not to meet other people's ideas of what I look like/weigh etc will be a big thing for me to address. I will be praying over the steps I take to make sure I do not lose my identity in Christ Jesus.
How I reflect back
Whilst setting goals and reviewing them is one way to reflect back another way I reflect back is by making a photo album of our family highlights, throughout the year. I use the app Fish to make my album as I can do it from my phone, which is where all my photo's are stored. It takes a bit of time to place them exactly where I want them, but I really enjoy doing this. All the things we have celebrated and done together, lots of ordinary moments building memories and our lives together. I find the app really easy to use and can personalise our album the way I like it. This year we have 11x8 hard backed album and I'm looking forward to when it arrives and I can peruse, with a nice cuppa, at all the things we have done in 2018.
New Years Eve
I like to stay up and see the old year out and celebrate bringing the New Year in with family, singing old lang syne, party poppers, nibbles, games and music. I have spent some time reflecting back over this past year, put away the Christmas presents, taken down the Christmas decorations and now I feel ready to embrace the year in front!
Let's do this 2019!